Two articles on the praxis of resistance to neoliberalism in Latin America.
THE WEAKEST LINK: Neoliberalism in Latin America
The continent that once served as laboratory for the Washington Consensus now represents the most substantial challenge to its prescriptions. A survey of left strategies, from Buenos Aires to Mexico City, and prospects for counter-hegemonic regional integration by Emir Sader in the New Left Review.
The new century is off to a surprising start in Latin America. The continent that had been a privileged territory for neoliberalism, where it was first applied—in Chile and Bolivia—rapidly turned into the leading arena not only for resistance but for construction of alternatives to neoliberalism. Two faces of the same coin: precisely by having been the laboratory for neoliberal experiments, Latin America is now having to deal with their consequences. The 1990s and the 2000s have been two radically opposite decades. During the 90s, the neoliberal model was imposed to varying degrees in virtually every country on the continent—with the exception of Cuba. Clinton, who did not even cross the Rio Grande to sign the first North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta), was forced not long after to approve a super-loan from Washington when the first crisis of the new model broke out in Mexico. The us went on to press for a hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas (ftaa), presenting this as the natural outcome of the seamless extension of free-trade policies.
At an Americas summit meeting in Canada in 2000, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was the only leader to vote against Clinton’s proposal for an ftaa, while Cardoso, Menem, Fujimori and their colleagues fell meekly into line. On the occasion of his first Ibero-American Summit, Chávez reported, Castro passed him a piece of paper on which he had written: ‘At last I’m not the only devil around here.’ It was thus with some relief, too, that Chávez—himself elected president of Venezuela in 1998—attended the investiture of Lula in Brasilia and Néstor Kirchner in Buenos Aires in 2003, before moving on to that of Tabaré Vázquez in Montevideo in 2004, that of Evo Morales in La Paz in 2006, and in 2007 those of Daniel Ortega in Managua and Rafael Correa in Quito; followed in 2008 by Fernando Lugo in Asunción. Meanwhile the us free-trade proposal that had been almost unanimously approved in 2000 was dead and buried by 2004. Since that date, Chávez himself has been re-elected, as was Lula in 2006; in April of this year, Kirchner was succeeded by his wife, Cristina Fernández, and Lugo triumphed in Paraguay, putting an end to more than sixty years of rule by the Colorado Party.
What is the meaning of this radical reversal, faster than any the continent has experienced before, to give the largest number of progressive governments, whether left or centre-left, that it has seen in its entire history?
To read the full article, click here.
TRANSFORMATIVE POSSIBILITIES IN LATIN AMERICA
William Robinson, in this article in the Socialist Register argues:
... the issue of political organizations that can mediate vertical links between political and civil society is so important. What type of political vehicle can interface between the popular forces on the one hand and state structures on the other? How can internally-democratic political instruments be developed to operate at the level of political society and dispute state power without diluting the autonomous mobilization of social movements? The potential for transformation will depend on the combination of independent pressure of mass social movements from below on the state and also on the representatives and allies of those movements taking over the state. To reiterate, this is why a permanent mobilization from below that forces the state to deepen its transformative project ‘at home’ and its counter-hegemonic transnational project ‘abroad’ is so crucial.
The full article can be read here.